Whether we actually indulge in them or not, we’re all aware of the huge presence that internet browser games have. They’re generally fast-paced, efficient, and easy to access and play, requiring very little in terms of hardware to power them. Over time, there have been various ‘it’ browser games that people go crazy over, and they have migrated over various internet platforms like Miniclip and Facebook. They still are, in fact, that backbone of all online casino games,
But how have browser games become so popular? What is it that draws people towards the platform, and how have they grown over the years? And what does the future hold? Read on below as we take a look at some of the most influential moments in gaming history that brought the browser platform to the forefront of internet gaming.
In the beginning…
For decades, people have been trying to find different ways to enjoy playing games. The first video games were quite basic and, technically speaking, hard to access. Pretty much all games were only available on arcade machines, which limited audiences and provided a very niche space for players to enjoy the content. But slowly, the industry has endeavored to make gaming as efficient and accessible as possible.
Also read: The List of Best ’90s Arcade Games
The eventual introduction of home consoles moved the video game experience into our living rooms, giving us the opportunity of enjoying our favorite titles in the comfort of our own home. The medium’s new home meant that a new stream of content could be brought forward, without the more impersonal approach that arcade games brought to the table. This new level of accessibility allowed for the industry to flourish, growing substantially thanks to the now direct-to-consumer market that home consoles opened up.
The buzz even moved on to handheld games, which gave us the luxury of playing on the go, no matter where we would find ourselves. Over the years, handheld consoles like Nintendo’s Game Boy and Sony’s PlayStation Portable provided players with immersive experiences that could be enjoyed anywhere.
Also read: How to Play Sony PlayStation 2 Games on PC
Of course, the 90’s gave us home internet and, with that, a whole new platform to explore. Through our web browsers, we were finally able to play games instantly, with no permanent downloads required and no wait time. The internet as a gaming platform meant that there was no need to invest in expensive dedicated hardware to play; it could all be done on your comfortable web browser with very few system requirements. Through this new form-factor, games became an instant thing that could even be played with others around the globe. The instant gaming promise is still something that the industry is looking into today thanks to streaming, but it holds roots deeply within good old browser games.
The Golden Age of Browser Games
Once the internet started entering our homes, it was only a matter of time before browser games took over with establishments like Supercat Casino offering a myriad of gambling fun that can be accessed directly on your browser.
To this day, they still provide the most efficient access to games. No need to invest in hardware or pay a subscription; the majority of internet browser games have always been free-to-play and will work on any decent machine that can run a web browser properly.
Over time, many a game managed that claimed the title of the most viral browser game. Perhaps one of the most popular browser virals of all time is Runescape, the free browser game that started the MMORPG experience for so many players. For those who didn’t want to pay a monthly subscription fee for World of Warcraft, Runescape provided a great alternative for players who still wanted to indulge in a medieval fantasy MMORPG. The community around the game became so strong that it is still alive today, despite the advancements that MMORPGs and video games have had in general.
Another worthy mention is the incredible phenomenon of Farmville. The browser game became one of the most played games on the Facebook game platform, with millions of users building the ranch of their dreams. The game’s simple gameplay and easy interface meant that millions of people could play it without needing any gaming experience or prowess. Farmville was enjoyed by players of all ages and backgrounds who created a loving community that had, at one point, reached an astounding peak of 311 million players.
The platform even began finding ways to port some classic games onto people’s browsers. Long-time classics like DOOM and Castlevania could now be played from the comfort of your very own web browser. People even managed to find ways to create entire emulators working on your browser, with libraries for consoles like Nintendo 64, Game Boy Advance, and SEGA Genesis making their way onto the browser game scene. So, as the retro gaming culture continued to expand, these free browser ports became a must-have for many long time fans who were itching for the chance to play their favorite classic game and revel in the nostalgia that came with it.
Of course, these are just some of the browser games that went viral, ‘taking over the internet’ and becoming pop culture icons for years to come. The common denominator among these browser games is the strong community that is built by the players who love the experience and dedicate so much time to it. It feeds on the positive side of the internet, where people come together to create and share in a network that spans across the globe. This level of networking and shared creation can even be seen in browser games like Happy Wheels, which invited players to create their own content and upload it online, creating a never-ending stream of content that is still around to this very day. The possibilities seemed endless, and browser games kept their relevant place in the entertainment sector until the eventual introduction of mobile gaming become a de-facto successor to the popular platform.
From Browser to Mobile and Beyond
With time, mobile apps became a more natural place for developers to place their free-to-play content. Smartphone’s mobile nature meant that these experiences could be enjoyed anywhere and at any time, and so many popular browser games made the shift to the new platform. The astounding success of mobile games is still on the rise, with mobile gaming leading the way in terms of the sheer amount of player numbers it can boast. With phones becoming more and more advanced with every new iteration, mobile games have grown in both scope and vision, resulting in some experiences that can be compared to the quality found in console games. Of course, this huge number of players brought their own issues with it. The idea of micro-transactions flourished on the platform, with game producers implementing the structure to lure players in with the promise of a free game and then generating much more long-time revenue through the sale of in-game cosmetics, characters, and features. Micro-transactions have and still do try to find their way into every single game on the market, although luckily, producers have been deterred by the feature that has caused a number of controversies in recent years.
With that being, the platform is far from dead. The online casino space still continues to invest and innovate within the platform, releasing consistent new titles that work across both desktop browsers and mobile platforms to offer players the chance to play, however they like. Space has also managed to improve thanks to new browser technologies that allow for bigger and better-looking games to be brought to your screen. This may not exactly be the sort of sector that will attract fans of more traditional browser game players, but it’s a part of the industry that actively promotes the platform and supports it with a continuous supply of content.
Land of the Free
Of course, no matter where the future takes us, browser games will always have a special place in our hearts. Today, you’ll still find many a dedicated player who will still log in on a consistent basis to a swing rune-etched blade or mow their overgrown lawns. Sure, these games may not be able to match the quality and scale of modern console games fully, but these browser titles offer a different experience, one which appeals to a wider audience and can be easily played by people all around the world.
The idea of being able to enjoy playing video games for free on your web browser was an incredible concept that proved gaming is a pastime that could be enjoyed by so many more people if it were more accessible to a wider audience. In true internet fashion, browser games brought people together, made new connections and networks, and showed us that online communities can play an integral role in keeping a service or, in this case, a video game alive for years.